Inexpensive landscaping ideas

Fake it until you make it with these cheap landscaping fixes that look expensive.

Add a small water feature

With minimal materials and effort, you can build this beautiful artesian fountain in just two days. And – bonus! – once it’s built, you don’t have to worry about maintenance.

Carve out a slice of lawn for a flower bed

Putting in a flower bed doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Just some simple edging, good soil and colourful flowers will do.

Roll in a boulder

Boulders are eye-catching and provide a natural location for adding grasses, flowers and other garden plants. You’ll find huge piles of boulders to pick through anywhere that sells landscaping supplies. Prices vary with size, less for breadbox-size ones and more for giant boulders that you’ll have to have delivered and placed.

Whatever sizes you choose, nest the boulders into the ground a bit. They should look like they were left from a receding glacier – not like they were just rolled off the back of a pickup!

Grow self-seeding flowers

Self-seeding flowers, like the hollyhocks seen here, are a real money saver for the home gardener. Buy a packet of seeds now and have flowers forevermore. The secret is to sow them where they have a chance to succeed (consult seed packets for recommendations) and then allow some of the fading flowers to go to seed.

Resist deadheading – at least near the end of the season, when a new crop of seeds is needed. Some great self-seeders include rudbeckia, sunflower, cleome, zinnia, calendula, bachelor’s buttons, poppies, and cosmos.

Use cheap planters, but dress them up

Garden twine is a useful tool for any gardener, especially as a cheap and cheerful addition to any planter. With a little hot glue and some imagination, you can create almost any look you like. Wrap an entire run-of-the-mill plastic planter with twine for an industrial look, or cover only a portion to give your decorative planters a modern edge.

Twine is also easily painted, so consider adding a colourful stripe to the middle section of twine with spray paint for an extra pop of colour, or group pots together with assorted colours to accent your other outdoor decor. The only limitation to any planter is to ensure that the size of the planter matches the size of the plants you want to display.

Go with a gravel path

Adding a garden path provides interest and a place to walk through your landscape. But rather than installing an expensive concrete or paver pathway, opt for less-expensive gravel or mulch.

Mount small planters on the deck

Planters can be made with all sorts of inexpensive items, such as old pallets or guttering. In a little under an hour, you can make this simple railing-mounted planter. All you need is some standard gutter parts.

Repurpose containers for starting seeds

Reuse a plastic clamshell container from the salad bar as a mini greenhouse for starting seeds in the spring. After washing the container, punch a few holes in the top. Fill the bottom with potting soil and plant your seeds. Close the lid and place the container in a sunny spot. It acts like a mini-greenhouse, allowing the sun to reach the plants while holding in moisture.

Put in a backyard fire pit

Build a fire pit for not much more than the cost of a flimsy store-bought fire ring.

Save on potting mix

Name-brand potting mixes can set you back quite a few dollars when you’re filling large containers. Use less of the expensive soil mix (and save weight so you can move the containers more easily) by lining the bottom of large containers with packing peanuts before filling with soil mix.

Put the packing peanuts in a sealed plastic bag or cover with landscape fabric to prevent them from mingling with the soil (a hassle if you ever dump the pot).

Recycle berry containers for lawn care

When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container – it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn! This is one simple way to reduce waste and save money every month, too.

Add mounds to flat areas

If you’re stuck with a perfectly flat yard, a mounded “island” of earth is a great place to isolate and display plantings, yard ornaments, boulders or other eye-catching features. A yard with contours looks more natural than a flat yard. Order a dump truck’s worth of topsoil or use fill generated from patio or pond excavations.

Go for green

Unless you’re a seasoned gardener, get help with selecting and placing plants. Bring photos or a scale drawing of planting areas to the nursery and enlist the help of a knowledgeable salesperson. Your goals are to choose a variety of plants that lend colour throughout the season (including winter), and to position them well, so their mature growth heights and widths fill in the planting beds and blend well.